It’s heating up out there, and the grass is certainly responding! Many of us know we’ll need to mow frequently over the next few months, but we may not know that yard waste, such as those lawn clippings, is actually a stormwater pollutant that can have a big impact on water quality. Check out the CWEP video below starring the Sodfather, and learn about what you can do to help keep stormwater runoff clean as we do our summer landscaping!
Check out this great video from Wellington Water in New Zealand about how to keep your car wash activities from polluting our water! All communities face the same stormwater challenges we do, so we can all learn from each other when it comes to cleaning up. Take a look and see what you can do differently this summer to reduce your stormwater impact, and tell your friends and neighbors when you see them washing their cars!
Our everyday activities can really contribute to stormwater pollution if we aren’t careful. Trash, litter, pet waste, sediment, fertilizers, oil, you name it – it can end up in the storm drain and on its way to the nearest stream before you know it! Of course, that pollution can have a major impact on the fish and other animals that live in those streams, ponds, and rivers where the pollution ends up. What would happen if the fish could tell us they didn’t appreciate us sharing our dirty stormwater with them?
Check out the video below to see what happened when Jonny Fishpatrick was fed up with the stormwater pollution being dumped in his home, and imagine how this could be happening in your neighborhood!
What happens to dirt in stormwater?
When soil, dirt, sand, clay, or other tiny bits of earth end up in stormwater, we then call it “sediment” because those pieces can eventually settle out to the bottom of a body of water. However, moving water such as stormwater runoff through our neighborhoods and cities keeps the sediment from settling and can cause serious problems for water quality.
What does sediment do in the environment?
Sediment pollution creates many issues in the environment; here are just a few!
- Clogs fish gills and suffocates small insects and other animals;
- Creates murky, cloudy water that blocks sunlight from reaching plants;
- Transports hundreds of other chemicals and pollutants to our drinking water that are hitching a ride on the sediment;
- Encourages growth of toxic algae that can make people and animals sick;
- Completely changes the course of a river or stream by depositing new banks!
What can we do to reduce stormwater pollution from sediment?
Sediment can come from many sources, such as construction sites or digging, erosion when vegetation has been removed, and even just dust and grime from your driveway, car, and sidewalk. You can help keep this dirt from getting in our streams and rivers by sweeping up instead of hosing down!
If you see muddy brown water being deliberately sent into the storm drain like in the photo below, or if you see lots of sediment coming from a construction site, call your local water department (contact info here) and let them know right away.
The Robeson Creek Watershed Council is a group of local citizens, government entities, and other stakeholders that originally met quarterly to discuss and implement plans to conserve and protect the Robeson Creek watershed. CWEP Partners including the Town of Pittsboro, Chatham County, and others support and are involved in this Council. Protection of the Robeson Creek area is an important component of the health of the Haw River, which is a main contributor to Jordan Lake. The group has not convened in recent years but has been rejuvenated with a great Council meeting on May 25, 2017.
The team hopes to embark on many new conservation, rehabilitation, and watershed protection projects and goals moving forward. Check out the Robeson Creek Watershed Council brochure to learn more about the group, or follow them on Twitter at @RobesonCreek.
Thanks to Tyler with the Green Teens Club for sending over this great resource on water pollution! This infographic from Basement Guides offers a lot of interesting information on sources of contaminants in your home, as well as additional data on pollution around the world. Click on the image below to take a look at their site!
Also check out the Green Teens Club website below to find more information about environmental issues, as well as see the cool work the Club is doing in their area. Maybe you’ll want to start your own club!
The Town of Morrisville, NC, member of the CWEP group, was recognized for their excellent efforts in stormwater management by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by winning the 2017 EPA Rain Catcher Award in the Municipal category!
The Town’s Northwest Park Project was created to provide a new neighborhood playground and public recreation spaces. They incorporated low-impact design elements such as green stormwater infrastructure to reduce the speed of water flowing through the area, as well as remove sediment and other pollutants like nutrients from the runoff. The parking lot and playground area were installed with permeable pavement to allow rainwater to soak through instead of flowing off, and also features a 3,000-gallon cistern to capture rainwater for use in irrigating the landscaping. There are also fun and educational signs highlighting the projects to the park visitors.
Congratulations to the Town of Morrisville – keep up the great work!
To learn more about what the Town is doing in stormwater managment or about this project, please visit the Town website here.
Water is Worth Saving!
We all know that water is a precious resource, but sometimes we use more than we really need. This post will help you identify some things in your home that may be using too much water, as well as some things we can all do to cut down on water waste!
Here is a great infographic from PortaPotty.net (that’s right!) on the habits that waste the most water in average homes. These are things we are all guilty of doing, but that are really easy to fix if we just pay a little attention to our actions. Check out their site here for more cool diagrams, graphs, and information on the 25 best ways to conserve water!
So what do I do at home?
Now that we know some of things that waste the most water, what can we do to change? Here are some great steps you can take every day to reduce water consumption in your kitchen, bathroom, and even in the lawn, from HomeAdvisor!
Everyone has an address. It starts with your name, then your house by number, then the road you live on, then the town, and finally the state you live in. Each part of your address is a larger area. Watersheds work the same way. Each small stream is part of a larger river system. Everybody lives in a watershed!
Smaller streams in the upper reaches of a watershed flow downhill to form a larger watershed or river basin. Trace your hand to see how small streams (fingers) flow together to form a larger water body like a lake (hand) which flows into a river (wrist and arm).
Watersheds Are Handy
A watershed is simply the area of land that drains to a body of water, so even a small creek in your backyard has a watershed. Small watersheds make up larger watersheds, which in turn form larger river basins, which may drain to the largest water body of all…the ocean!
Here’s a “hands-on” activity to help you visualize this concept!
- Trace your hand and wrist.
- Imagine your fingertips are high mountain tops. Picture rain falling on them, forming a small stream of water that flows down each finger. Also picture “groundwater” seeping up to the earth’s surface at each of your fingertips and adding water to the small stream or watershed.
- These five small watersheds flow into each other as they run down to your hand. Cup your palm—together the five small watersheds form one larger watershed.
- Imagine this large watershed joined by other large watersheds. Soon they flow together as one “river” down your wrist.
- The river continues its journey to your lower arm, your larger upper arm, and eventually flows into the largest part of you: your body or the largest water body on earth…the “ocean.”
Cool Fact: Your body is approximately 75% water, and so is the Earth!
Watersheds Are In Your Hands
Watersheds reflect how people treat their land and water. Healthy watersheds reflect human communities that value and respect the natural resources that sustain them. Clean water is the result of their individual and collective efforts to prevent water pollution.
Today, the greatest threat to watersheds in our communities and our country is stormwater pollution! Give clean water a hand by practicing clean water stewardship every day. Here’s more information about stormwater in our daily lives.
Give Water A Hand is a national watershed education program that can help you find out how to get involved in local environmental projects.
Ever wonder what to do and who to contact when you see a problem in a creek or river? Many of us witness pollution in our waterways and may not know how to help. Now, a new tool helps citizens report sedimentation and erosion issues from construction, chemical releases, oil spills, or even trash accumulation in their areas.
The Muddy Water Watch was developed by Waterkeepers around the country as a way to monitor and protect their waterways from harmful pollution. Concerned citizens can submit, assign, and track incidents as soon as they are discovered using the website interface. Additionally, their handy mobile app can be downloaded for free and sends citizen reports directly to the Riverkeeper in the impacted area.
Check out more about what the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Riverkeepers in your area are doing to keep your water safe.